Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Veterans at Occupy Sacramento Speak Out in November - Gainesville Vets follow the Speak Out Tradition this Week

Veterans at Occupy Sacramento Speak Out  in November - 

Last November VFP member and pastor Jerry Pederson spoke out against war based on his personal experience at the end of WWII:
Sacramento area veterans, including many appearing in uniform or military garb with ribbons and medals, spoke out against wars that they said only benefit the 1 percent during a news conference held by Occupy Sacramento at Cesar Chavez Park on Veterans Day, 2011.
Jerry Pedersen, a Lutheran minister, was only 17 when he was drafted to serve in the US. Army in the Pacific during World War II. He was a member of the honor guard that served at the surrender of the Japanese army aboard USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.
“I was standing only 30 feet away from where the table where General Douglas MacArthur and officials of the allies and Japanese government met,” said Pederson. “McCarthur said to the crowd, ‘We preserve in peace what we won in war.’”
“Out of my experience that day, I made my committment to work for peace – and decided that the best way to do that was as a pastor,” he said. “As a member of Veterans for Peace, I am working for our veterans to be treated honorably when they come home from war – and for the government to make a real commitment to slow down the war and violence business.”

Gainesville Veterans Speak Out this Wednesday Evening

Regardless of your stand on war and peace all Gainesville area veterans are invited to speak out about their own experiences and points of view this Wednesday at Santa Fe Community College.  The public is invited to attend and learn from our veterans.

WHEN:  Wednesday:  March 28, 6:30-9:00 pm.
WHERE:  Santa Fe College, Northwest Gainesville Campus, Room WA-104, Bldg WA
         [bldg WA is just west of bldg W].
WHO: SFC student groups, in conjunction with Community Coalition Against War & Terrorism and Veterans for Peace.
WHAT: All veterans, of all opinions, are invited to tell their stories, speak their minds, and answer questions from the public.

Contact: Pierce Butler: pbutler@igc.org, 352-377-4601

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pressure Mounts for Transparency in Manning Court-Martial

Courthouse News Service
 The pressure to honor Bradley Manning's civil rights continues as trial lawyers and reporters are left in the dark on the initial proceedings.
   "As the Manning court-martial purports to be a public trial, we cannot understand why critical aspects of the proceedings are being withheld from public view," the Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner wrote in a three-page letter released Thursday."
National Security again cited as an excuse for denying a citizen civil rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
  Last December, Manning stepped into a court in Fort Meade, Md., for the first time in an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury.
     The government has not released motions, rulings and transcripts of those and subsequent proceedings.
     In a March 12 letter to Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson, more than 40 news organizations wrote that the government showed greater transparency with the cases of Guantanamo detainees than with that of Manning.
     "As such, the coalition respectfully urges the government to implement similar reforms in its regulations governing court-martial proceedings generally and that of Manning specifically to ensure that military personnel tried stateside have the same rights to a public trial as those afforded accused terrorists," the letter states.
     Ratner, on behalf of Assange and Wikileaks, joined that effort on Thursday, in a letter to the presiding military judge, Col. Denise Lind, which he copied to the Pentagon."
government claims of the necessity of secrecy has shrouded the court proceedings in secrecy and denied the importance of the rules by which a democracy must live.

 The letter quoted 6th Circuit Judge Damon Keith's grim warning, "Democracies die behind closed doors," from an opinion in the case of Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, which forced immigration courts to open proceedings of defendants with suspected ties to the Sept. 11 attacks.
     Ratner said that it is difficult for even lawyers to follow the Manning court-martial without access to these records.
     "For example, undersigned counsel attended the motions hearing on March 15, 2012, and determined that it was not possible to understand fully or adequately the issues being litigated because the motions and response thereto were not available," he wrote.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why does US need over 1000 military bases around the world?

Why does US need over 1000 military bases around the world? - RT 110214 - YouTube
Introducing a new series: US Foreign Military Base of the Month.  I would love some help with deciding which of the 1000 or so US military bases to highlight each month.  If you have info on a base or would like to hear about a particular base let me know.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Attorney asks for dismissal in WikiLeaks case - Government refusesd to release documents for trial.

Attorney asks for dismissal in WikiLeaks case - seattlepi.com: FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — An attorney for an Army private charged with leaking hundreds of thousands of pages of classified information asked a military judge Thursday to dismiss the charges against his client, arguing the government bungled the turning over of documents in the case.  The request came during a hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning at a military courtroom at Fort Meade, Md., near Baltimore.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Militarization of Foreign Policy | Are we ready to negotiate with Iran or Anyone.?

The Militarization of Foreign Policy | We Meant Well - Peter Van Buren
So if we don't bomb Iran are we prepared to negotiate?  Here is a story from Iraq on how our Foreign Policy was carried out.  You would laugh at how poorly we did our "nation building"  if it wasn't a tragedy for so many innocent people.
Peter Van Buren, an envoy in Iraq:
What you do get for your money is the militarization of foreign policy. During my year in Iraq as a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Leader I watched with some sadness as the majority of our engagement with Iraqis in the field was conducted by young Army captains. I was the lone Foreign Service Officer assigned to a brigade of some 3000 soldiers

If you wonder why so few envoys look at the facts about funding.

There really are more military band members than State Department Foreign Service Officers. The whole of the Foreign Service is smaller than the complement aboard one aircraft carrier. Despite the role that foreign affairs has always played in America’s drunken intercourse abroad, the State Department remains a very small part of the pageant. The Transportation Security Administration has about 58,000 employees; the State Department has about 22,000. The Department of Defense (DOD) has nearly 450,000 employees stationed overseas, with 2.5 million more in the US.

At the same time, Congress continues to hack away at State’s budget. The most recent round of bloodletting saw State lose some $8 billion while DOD gained another $5 billion. The found fiver at DOD will hardly be noticed in their overall budget of $671 billion. The $8 billion loss from State’s total of $47 billion will further cripple the organization. The pattern is familiar and has dogged State-DOD throughout the war of terror years.

I had heard this quote about the military band  from a young State Department envoy I know and on research found it was actually something Condolezza Rice said. And she was at least partly correct as you can see from the numbers above we don't put much money where our negotiating mouth is. Here are some more examples form Iraq on how skewed our approach to foreign policy is towards the military side.

The bottom line was that for most Iraqis not living and working in the Green Zone, the only Americans they saw wore green and carried weapons.

The militarization issue was always visible at the smallest units of diplomacy in Iraq, the PRTs. The Department of State struggled to field adequate numbers of qualified employees from among its own ranks, forcing the creation of an army of contractors, called 3161s after the name of the legislation in 5 USC 3161 that created their hiring program. The need for 3161s to live on a military base skewed hiring toward self-selecting former military, nearly self-defeating the idea of providing a civilian side to reconstruction.

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction in its review of the PRTs’ first year of operation found an Army veterinarian developing agriculture programs, an Air Force aviation maintenance manager as a PRT co-leader, and advisers to Iraqi provincial governors who included a former Navy submariner, a Marine ultrasound technician, and an Army drill sergeant. My own PRT staff fit a similar profile, with the exception of my agricultural adviser, a pig farmer from Missouri. He always felt a bit out of place in Iraq when no one wanted to discuss hogs with him

A sad story here that does not give you confidence that we are at all prepared to negotiate. The author also talked about the difficulties for the young Army Captains who were essentially the bulk of our "envoys" to Iraq who had to put down their guns and try to do diplomacy with essentially no training and a huge disadvantage in that they were negotiating with people who we had recently been shooting and whose relatives we often had killed.

There is also a critique of State and its ability to carry through Nation Building. Of course I and most of VFP would say that this Nation Building was nothing but a front to provide profits for private corporations that benefited from the unregulated and chaotic battle field conditions and the dismantling of state owned services in the conversion to the more profitable Free Market economy.  we also might say that Nation Building was irrelevant and probably impossible since Iraq will have to rebuild itself and cannot derive any benefits from the colonial approach of the US doing it for them although we definitely owe them reparations money which will probably never be paid. This is especially true since we started and seem to have remained totally ignorant and uninterested in Iraqi cultural traditions.  This last fact speaks to the flawed nature of our whole militarized foreign policy which not only puts the rest of the World at risk but makes Amreican citizens vulnerable to the blow-back it creates.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Brave Fellow Protestor for Peace Accepts the Iranian People's Oscar

The Iranian People's Oscar - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast
: Alyssa Rosenberg calls it "by far the classiest, most meaningful speech of the evening":

One of the best things art can do is expose who we are, in all our beauty and ugliness, and remind us of what we’re capable of being. And in this case, it was also a brave act. Farhadi’s been wearing a necktie most of this awards season in a subtle rebuke to the Iranian regime’s suggestion that it’s a decadent Western accessory, and tonight, some commentators suggest that his speech could prevent him from returning to Iran or make life uncomfortable for him when he got back there. That’s a real risk for an award that carries less benefit than a Best Actor or Best Director statuette. Farhadi should be an example to politically engaged artists—and to politicians—everywhere.

Friday, March 9, 2012

There are just a few problems With Bombing Iran

There are just a few problems | Firedoglake: Former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan, in his first U.S. television interview, says he believes that the Iran regime is rational and that now is not the time to attack Iran.

“The regime in Iran is a very rational one,” the former top Israeli spymaster tells CBS’ Leslie Stahl, according to excerpts of the interview released by 60 Minutes.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When Can Obama Kill You? - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

When Can Obama Kill You? - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast
Ackerman"comments from Wired Danger Room:
Holder did not explain why U.S. forces could not have captured Awlaki instead of killing him, nor what its criteria are for determining on future missions that suspected U.S. citizen terrorists must be killed, rather than captured. Holder did not explain why Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, whom a missile strike killed two weeks after his father’s death, was a lawful target. Holder did not explain how a missile strike represents due process, or what the standards for due process the government must meet when killing a U.S. citizen abroad. Holder did not explain why the government can only target U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism for death overseas and not domestically.

More at the link above